A Song Below Water
by Bethany C. Morrow
(YA contemporary fantasy)
I really enjoyed this book! I picked it up knowing nothing about it beyond the blurb and what I could see on the cover, and it exceeded all of my expectations. The girls’ voices were real and honest, and the setting of real-life-but-not-quite was perfect. Really well done, and I’ll be looking out for more of Morrow’s work in the future.
I’m going to avoid going into too many details about the book, even in the spoiler section, because I really appreciated going into this one without knowing much about what I should expect. I found the journey of discovery to be one of the best parts about it.
I found the reveal of who the gargoyle was to be perfect. I hadn’t considered the option that he was there to watch over Effie and not Tavia, nor that he might be able to change form. I loved getting to know him as he started actually talking to the girls, too.
Also, I greatly appreciate that — while we didn’t meet the actual antagonist of the book right away — the source of the book’s conflict was sitting in plain sight the whole time. And yet because the characters were so convinced they knew what was going on, I never thought to question it, either.
the only thing more anxiety-inducing than having made plans I don’t want to keep is facing the person and telling them I’d rather not go.Bethany C. Morrow, A Song Below Water
Given the current climate of protests and me trying to educate myself more abut the #BlackLivesMatter movement, I appreciated getting a glimpse into the life of a Black teenager in present-day America. (I’ll be honest, I also appreciated that the uglier parts were only a glimpse. Not glossed over, but not the main focus of the story either.)
Tavia is already at odds with the world, forced to keep her siren identity under wraps in a society that wants to keep her kind under lock and key. Never mind she’s also stuck in Portland, Oregon, a city with only a handful of black folk and even fewer of those with magical powers. At least she has her bestie Effie by her side as they tackle high school drama, family secrets, and unrequited crushes.
But everything changes in the aftermath of a siren murder trial that rocks the nation; the girls’ favorite Internet fashion icon reveals she’s also a siren, and the news rips through their community. Tensions escalate when Effie starts being haunted by demons from her past, and Tavia accidentally lets out her magical voice during a police stop. No secret seems safe anymore — soon Portland won’t be either.
Sometimes I make fun of myself so that, feeling sufficiently foolish, I can woman up and move on.Bethany C. Morrow, A Song Below Water
Rating: 5 stars
Content: mentions of past / accidental self harm
Representation: POC characters